Tom Lanoye

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Tom Lanoye
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Tom Lanoye (c) Arthur Los (2022)
Tom Emiel Gerardine Aloïs Lanoye

(1958-08-27) 27 August 1958 (age 64)
Nationality Belgian
Occupation(s)novelist, poet

Tom Lanoye (his name is pronounced the French way: /lanwa/) was born on 27 August 1958 in the Belgian city Sint Niklaas. He is a novelist, poet, columnist, screenwriter and playwright. He is one of the most widely read and honoured authors in his language area (the Netherlands and Flanders), and makes regular appearances at all the major European theatre festivals.



Lanoye was the youngest son of a butcher. He attended the catholic Sint-Jozef-Klein-Seminarie College in Sint-Niklaas. At the time it was a single-sex boys' school. He studied Germanic Philology and Sociology at Ghent University. Still a student, he self-published his first work. In his own words, 'Just like all the punk bands did in those days: out of dissatisfaction with the existing structures, and to learn the trade from the inside out'.

Lanoye lives and works in Antwerp and Cape Town (South Africa). His literary work has been published and/or performed in over fifteen languages.

Literary work

In 1985 Lanoye published his prose debut, the semi-autobiographical novel Een slagerszoon met een brilletje (A Butcher's Son with Spectacles). His other books include Alles moet weg (Everything Has To Go) (1988), the melancholy coming-of-age novel Kartonnen dozen (Cardboard Boxes) (1991) and the trilogy comprising Het Goddelijke Monster (The Divine Monster), Zwarte tranen (Black Tears) and Boze tongen (Spiteful Tongues) which describes the disintegration of a rich and corrupt Belgian family. A ten-part television series based on this trilogy was broadcast on 'Eén', the Flemish public broadcaster's main channel, in autumn 2011.

Lanoye has made an impression as a contemporary dramatist abroad with his 12-hour verse adaptation of eight of Shakespeare's history plays entitled Ten Oorlog (To War) (1997). It has been performed in German at the Salzburg Festival and later on in several German stagings and cities. Several of his other plays — he wrote more than thirty — have been played at great festivals in Avignon, Amsterdam, Vienna,Paris and the Ruhr.

Lanoye started out as an enfant terrible, but has become an established writer who devotes himself to all forms of text and writing, for books, newspapers, periodicals and printed matter as well as for plays, cabaret and vocal performances, in any form whatsoever and in the broadest sense of the word' (a quote from the articles of association of his company, the LLC L.A.N.O.Y.E., set up in 1992).

In theatres he regularly performs literary shows, more like theatrical monologues than lectures.

Several of his books and plays won prizes. In 2007 he was granted the Gouden Ganzenveer for his entire collection of work and received an honorary doctorate from Antwerp University. In 2013 he again received a prize for his ‘oeuvre so far’ — the Constantijn Huygens Prize, the most important one in the Dutch language area.


Main awards

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